CINCINNATI -- When 15-year-old Gabriella Rodriguez was struck and killed during what police called a hit-and-run crash on Harrison Avenue early Monday morning, neighbors and nearby business owners said they were heartbroken but not surprised.
"It's just constant, people getting side-swiped, clipped," said business owner Mark Gable, who has worked at Gable Electric Company in North Fairmount since he was a boy: His father opened the store more than 70 years ago. Monday morning's crash occurred near the shop.
"You're just afraid for your life here on Harrison Avenue," he said, adding that he really started noticing a traffic problem three years ago.
Turns out the data back up Gable's concern, as collisions like the one that claimed the high school freshman's life Monday morning are becoming more and more common. It's part of an alarming trend that's growing nationwide as well as here in the Tri-State, according to the American Automobile Association.
According to data compiled by AAA, fatal hit-and-run crashes in Ohio have increased by more than 50 percent since 2012. AAA compiled their data from the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
Zooming in more locally, ODPS data show that each year from 2013 through 2016 saw an increase in the total number of hit-and-run crashes -- both fatal and injury-causing -- investigated by Cincinnati police. As for fatal hit-skips, CPD investigators saw spikes in 2015 and 2017.
According to AAA, hit-and-run crashes disproportionately impact pedestrians: Roughly 65 percent of those killed or hurt in a hit-skip were walking or riding a bicycle.
Harrison Avenue has a history of posing a higher risk to walkers and cyclists. While up-to-date crash statistics for Harrison Avenue weren't immediately available, a 2016 WCPO analysis of data at the time showed two intersections on Harrison Avenue had some of the highest frequencies of crashes involving pedestrians.
Gable wasn't surprised by that finding.
"This whole road here, people flying up and down it. It takes us 10 minutes to get out of this road here. There's no crosswalks. These kids are on their way to school. Here she's on her way to school and now this poor girl isn't going to come home today," he said.
"It's just very sad."
Police said Rodriguez fell in the street when she was bumped by the mirror of a silver minivan. When she tried to get back up, she was hit by the person driving a white Toyota Corolla. Authorities with Cincinnati Public Schools said she was walking to catch her Cincinnati Metro bus to school.
She later died at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center.